Collective Soul @ Nokia Theatre

Collective SoulNEW YORK, NY—Only one sentence reminded me that indeed the members of Collective Soul hail from Atlanta, Georgia, not California: “Southern gentlemen getting that Northern hospitality, man.” Though, even that remark ended with “man,” something lead singer Ed Roland says more often than not, in addition with “dude.”

Either way, Collective Soul are, and always will be, a band to be reckoned with. Maybe they have never gotten the recognition and the publicity they deserve, but I dare you to compare them with any other contemporary act. They outshine many, and have kept things rolling, even with a four-year hiatus, since 1994 and their first single “Shine.” To this day, the hits haven’t stopped coming, so could someone explain to me why they opened for the one-lame-hit-wonder band Live at Times Square’s Nokia Theatre?

Collective Soul far exude Live in both talent and class. Roland, his brother, and rhythm guitarist Dean, lead guitarist Joel Kosche, bassist Will Turpin, and drummer Ryan Hoyle play not as five separate guys, but as one, and they’re a band in the truest sense. Other than the fact that both bands have a lead singer by the name of Ed, there are no similarities. Roland profusely thanked New York in a purely genuine manner, whereas Live’s lead singer Ed Kowalczyk made a crack about inhaling NYC’s “foul smell” to give his voice that “extra somethin’.” I believe he thought himself to be witty, though the crowd went silent; probably trying to convince themselves that throwing something at him would not be worth it in the end.

Though the house mix was incompetently EQ’d, with overly loud guitars, flat drums, lack of bass and whispery vocals, the monitor mix must’ve sounded great because Collective Soul were having a blast, and it sure didn’t hurt their performance. They cranked out classic hits like “December,” “Counting The Days,” “Better Now,” “Where The River Flows,” and their new single “Hollywood” (“This is our newest single… and you’re gonna dig it!”). Roland is often reminiscent of a bird of prey as he glides across the stage, belting out songs and pumping up the crowd.

As expected, humor was thrown in amongst everything else, when Roland’s electric guitar was on the fritz during their encore. “Watch, a man is gonna run out here real fast!” he joked, as his guitar tech kept running back and forth trying to make things work. “Dude, just give me the acoustic, man.” Roland then proceeded to end the night with “Shine” beautifully unplugged.

As the night came to a close, he taunted the crowd: “You liked that, didn’t ya New York!? You liked that, didn’t ya New York!? Now you can tell your family, and you can tell your friends, you saw Collective Soul, man!”